Call for comments: Report on internet shutdowns and human rights to the fiftieth session of the Human Rights Council in June 2022


Deadline
10 February 2022
Issued by
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Purpose
To report on internet shutdowns and human rights to the fiftieth session of the Human Rights Council in June 2022

Objectives

OHCHR will report on internet shutdowns and human rights to the fiftieth session of the Human Rights Council in June 2022. To support this report, OHCHR calls for all relevant stakeholders to submit information on their work promoting connectivity, detecting, preventing and responding to internet shutdowns. Besides this call for submissions, a call for information is being shared with States. Expert consultations on the same subject are planned to take place in early 2022.

I. Background

UN Human Rights Council resolution on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet (A/HRC/47/22) requested OHCHR "to study the trend in Internet shutdowns, analysing their causes, their legal implications and their impact on a range of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights.” The Council further encouraged States and all stakeholders to “share best practices on issues pertaining to bridging digital divides and enabling digital inclusion, including by collecting and providing public access to disaggregated data on access and use by disadvantaged persons or groups.” The resolution strongly condemns shutdowns and calls States to refrain from such measures. It also calls for strengthening efforts aimed at bridging digital divides within and between countries, with particular attention to marginalized groups, women and children.

II. Report scope

For the purposes of this consultation, shutdowns are understood as measures to intentionally disrupt access to and use of information and communications systems online. Shutdowns may occur in a wide range of forms, including: bandwidth throttling to slow internet access, blocking of specific apps such as social media or messaging services and other services, and the partial or complete shutdown of access to the internet. Such disruptions are typically ordered by pubic authorities and implemented by companies that operate communications networks or facilitate network traffic.

The report will address trends regarding the occurrence of shutdowns and their impact, measures adopted to prevent and respond to these events, as well as the relevance of disruptions for efforts aiming at promoting connectivity and digital inclusion.

III. Inputs sought

OHCHR welcomes submissions with information or research on the following topics:

1. The occurrence of mandated disruptions of communications

a) Information on the occurrence of any government-mandated disruptions of access to mobile or telephone communications networks over the past 5 years. Including their duration, geographical scope, whether or not there were official orders for these interventions and whether there were any legal measures taken to reverse the disruptions or to hold accountable those responsible.
b) Information on the occurrence of mandated disruptions of access to social media and messaging platforms over the past 5 years,. including their duration, geographical scope, whether or not there were official orders for these interventions and whether there were any legal measures taken to reverse the disruptions or to hold accountable those responsible.

2. Research conducted on the impact of mandated communications disruptions

Data or research on the impact of communication disruptions on economic, social, cultural and political activities. Please indicate if there is any specific disaggregated data on the impact of shutdowns on women, children and specific communities or locations.

3. Initiatives promoting internet connectivity and bridging the digital divides

Existing national connectivity initiatives, including, those promoting affordable and no-cost internet connections. Including considerations on:

a) Methods used for measuring progress and impact of the initiatives, including information on how the occurrence of internet shutdowns is being taken into account in this context;
b) Groups particularly targeted by the initiatives and the methods used to assess the resulting connectivity and digital inclusion;
c) Procedures in place to ensure transparency in the implementation of initiatives and to enable the participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular members of affected communities.

4. Initiatives undertaken as part of international aid and development assistance promoting internet connectivity and bridging the digital divides

Existing international aid and development assistance work promoting connectivity including, promoting affordable and no-cost internet connections, including considerations on:

a) Methods used for measuring progress and impact of the initiatives, including information on how the occurrence of internet shutdowns is being taken into account in this context;
b) Groups particularly targeted by the initiatives and the methods used to assess the resulting connectivity and digital inclusion;
c) Procedures in place to ensure transparency in the implementation of initiatives and to enable the participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular members of affected communities;
d) Related initiatives promoting the development or adoption of legal instruments regulating online space and the types of regulatory instruments sponsored.

IV. How and where to submit inputs/comments

Submissions should be sent to the e-mail address: OHCHR-ShutdownsReport@un.org  no later than 10 February 2022.

Additional supporting materials, such as reports, academic studies, and other background materials may be annexed/linked to the submission.

Deadline:
10 February 2022
E-mail subject line:
Input for the Report on internet shutdowns and human rights from (NAME OF ORGANIZATION OR INDIVIDUAL)
Word limit:
2,500 words
File formats:
Word, PDF
Accepted languages:
English, French, Spanish

Treatment of inputs/comments received

All submissions will be posted online. Should you wish to maintain confidentiality of your submission, kindly indicate it at the time of submission.

See the related Note Verbale sent to all Permanent Missions to the United Nations Office at Geneva